The mind is important in governing the daily activities of humans. This is a constant realization of our eminent philosophers since time immemorial. They have found that the internal thoughts of people were manifested into their external conditions and circumstances. They are conscious as to the effect of thoughts and their manifestations on people. Therefore, how does controlling your mind become important in your everyday life?
A person’s thoughts are so powerful that, if he thinks of being wealthy, then he might very well attract wealth into his life. However, if a person’s thoughts are about being poor, then he will most likely imbibe failure and hardships into his life. In its most basic sense, and as cliché as it may sound, we absorb what we focus on.
Why is controlling your mind important?
It is very significant to control, tame, and discipline your mind. It is, thus, an exercise of regulation over immense power: the power of thinking. Unlike before, modern science has already expressed its agreement with the aforementioned findings. Now, more than ever, it has become a critical aspect of a person’s life to be able to have control over his mind and not let his mind have control over him.
In controlling and taming one’s mind, perceptions, and thoughts, yoga is one of the foremost disciplines that may be utilized, coupled with proper meditation.
How does the practice of Yoga help in mindfulness?
Yoga involves studying the nature of the mind. It utilizes techniques that deal with the study of how the mind works and its nature. According to Shankaracharya, the mind can be defined in four ways in relation to its functions, to wit: manas, buddhi, ahankara, and chita.
Manas is an aspect of consciousness used for resolving and doubting. It shows a person how the world appears by using his senses without the need of defining images. It is centered at the top of the head.
Buddhi is for decision and judgment. It refers to a person’s intellect or intelligence; thus, it is the logical dimension of one’s consciousness. However, it is said that buddhi cannot function well without data that is already present in one’s mind. Buddhi directly connects to the third aspect, the ahankara.
Ahankara is sometimes called ego. It gives a person consciousness of his individual existence. This is a person’s sense of identity. It is said that once a person acquires an identity, his buddhi functions only in that context.
Lastly, chita is for remembering your previous experiences. It is said to be mind without memory. This is like a cosmic intelligence that is always with a person whatever they are doing, whether they are awake or asleep. Without it, a person cannot stay alive. It is the last aspect of the mind that connects a person with his consciousness. It connects the basis of creation within one’s self.
Is it possible to control your mind?
It is undeniable that one can control his thoughts. While the mind is a vast sphere of the realm and possibilities, it can still be tailored to think and process information accordingly. The Mind is expansive. As earlier stated, it is a massive collection not only of thoughts but traces of past experiences.
According to ancient philosophers, the mind of people at birth is a collection of samskaras from previous births. It comes from the Sanskrit word sam which means “joined together” and kara which means “action.” Said samskaras were already wiped out as their fruits have already been enjoyed.
However, as people grow old, new samskaras are continuously being added on account of the different activities people perform throughout their lifetime. These may be positive or negative. They make up a person’s conditioning and the repetition of samskaras, in effect, reinforces them; thus, creating a groove in one’s mind that is difficult to resist.
These collection of samskaras throughout one’s life translate into the law of karma. Karma is a Sanskrit work. It means “action.” The law of karma provides that events that a person experiences in his current life are the results of the activities he has done in his past lives. It further provides that a person’s mind, when he is born, contains the samskaras from his previous births.
Simply put, the law of karma provides that we sow what we plant. Hence, if we plant an apple seed, it will eventually bear apples not oranges. If we plant selfishness, ill-will, greed, spite, and other negative actuations, we cannot expect the universe to return to us selflessness, goodwill, generosity, benevolence, and other positive manifestations.
And we can even go further by saying that after sowing what we planted there remains residuals in the soil which may either be beneficial or destructive to the subsequent harvests. This is consistent with the concept of samskaras and karma.
What happens when we control our thoughts?
In Indian philosophy and yoga, klesha means “poison.” Kleshas are the root cause of every human misery. It is a negative mental state which temporarily clouds the mind and judgment. Consequently, it causes anguish and suffering. It prevents people from achieving the state of enlightenment. These are the five kleshas which yoga recognizes as basic to the mind of every person, to wit: avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha, and abhinivesha.
First, the avidya is the false knowledge or ignorance of one’s true self in relation to the objects. Avidya is being completely delusional about one’s surroundings and conditions. This klesha establishes negative habits which in turn prevents a person from changing and reaching his higher Self.
Second, asmita is egoism. It is the person’s attachment to his ego and what it senses to be the reality. In yoga body and soul are two different aspects; however, asmita is mistaking that one’s physical, emotional, and mental aspects is his true Self.
Third, raga is attachment. It is the liking of pleasurable experience. More aptly, it connotes the desire for earthly things such as status, power, material objects, and other unevolved desires.
Fourth, dvesha is repulsion. It is the aversion not only to pain, but also to everything that is unpleasant including things, people, and experiences.
Fifth, abhinivesha is the will to live. Thus, it is the fear of death. Even if life is filled with hardships and sufferings, there is desire to live.
The aforementioned qualities are considered impurities of the mind. They are said to be present in every person from the moment they are born. These impurities make a person unstable and agitated; however, through yoga, a person is able to cleanse his mind of said impurities.
Dhyana and pranayama are practices in yoga which aid in freeing a person’s mind and body. Dhyana means meditation and contemplation. It is considered as the seventh limb of yoga.
This trains a person’s mind to focus and concentrate only on the things that are necessary. On the other hand, pranayama is the practice of controlling your breath. Yoga basically means “to yoke” or join things together.
Through the union of the mind, the body, and the breath, we draw our focus inward, and thereby become more aware of our inner selves—this is the essence of mindfulness
Through this increase awareness of selves, we are able to tune down the outside world, along with its noise and with most things that come with it that may bring or cause us agitation.
But does mindfulness mean isolation from the world?
Mindfulness does not intend to mean isolation from the world. This will just keep us grounded in our very essence and core, that is, our sense of selves. Such that everyday encounters that will generally vex or annoy us are now kept at bay.
Because of this, the slow-moving traffic, the unbearable heat, and endless long lines for every little transaction that will normally send us to our wits’ ends do not elicit such strong negative reactions from us anymore.
Through mindfulness, we are then able to free ourselves of the impurities of the mind that are brought about by the stressors of the outside world. And in consequence, we are able to make more positive realizations that allow us to manifest more positive things in our lives.
How do you practice self-control of the mind?
Pranayama consists of synchronizing the breathing with asanas. In simple terms, it involves breath regulation in a specific sequence. The practice of pranayama, besides increasing mindfulness, lessens stress and enhances cognition. It has also been shown to improve emotional health.
Dhyana is control of how thoughts flow in our mind. Through dhyana, we are able to train our minds on what thoughts to prioritize and focus on. It keeps the mind stable and less reactive to stressors that creates suffering and disturbances in our minds.
Being free from disturbance of the minds or anything that may cause instability of thinking makes identifying the positive thoughts from the negative ones much easier.
Through pranayama or regulated breathing in asanas or sequence, we attain a good awareness of the consequence of certain actions through the ‘pause’ in our breath such that we are able to make the better choice, which are always the positive things. But surely, it is easier said than done. In real life, it is not that clear cut.
Indeed, it is not that easy to hold your breath when a former friend hurls an invective at you, or when your boss does not appreciate you, or when your colleague talks down on you.
But pranayama practiced with dhyana allows for a higher level of mindfulness, where the choice for inner peace and all the decisions that come along with it are made easier. And from that inner peace, more positive declarations and affirmations are able to be made not just to ourselves but also to others.
This consequently changes the world around us into what we manifest, which are always good and positive.